Civic Engagement

Westminster in Hartford

Westminster in Hartford (formerly WCLP) represents Westminster’s effort to expand its commitment to the common good by extending its core value of community into the Hartford public schools and beyond. Further, seeks to provide Westminster with on-going partnerships that reveal the essential perspective of Hartford’s residents, especially its young people. Ultimately, Westminster in Hartford seeks broad kinship.

In pursuit of its mission, Westminster in Hartford has undertaken assorted initiatives that engage Westminster School in the Hartford community.

Programs and Initiatives

List of 6 items.

  • Fourth Form Courses

    Civic Engagement and Civil Discourse
    This Fourth Form seminar exists for three reasons. First, through a carefully selected series of lessons, Civic Engagement and Civil Discourse seeks to help Westminster students better understand who they are and for what they stand. Second, Westminster School feels strongly that it should, explicitly and intentionally, teach its students that they have an obligation to engage in their community. Third, learning to engage in civil discourse is the gateway through which one engages in one's community — one must learn to listen, one must learn to consider opposing views, one must learn to honor the conventions of courtesy and respect.
     
    Strengths/Weaknesses Survey: In addition to helping students clarify their views, Civic Engagement will also encourage each individual to understand more clearly his or her strengths and weaknesses. To aid with this point of emphasis, Civic Engagement relies on the VIA Survey of Character Strengths for Children, made available by the University of Pennsylvania and its Authentic Happiness website. While the information each student receives back from these surveys is only for his or her personal use, please note that the survey information each student provides, though anonymous, becomes part of the research data pool. Please review the information below:
     
     
    Hidden Bias Tests: This course may also ask its students to take Hidden Bias Tests. As described in the Teaching Tolerance web site: “Hidden Bias Tests measure unconscious, or automatic, biases. Your willingness to examine your own possible biases is an important step in understanding the roots of stereotypes and prejudice in our society.” (http://www.tolerance.org/Hidden-bias). Available from Project Implicit via Harvard.edu, the tests allow an individual to measure one’s attitudes toward Race, Skin-tone, Weight, Weapons, Native Americans, Disability, Gender, Age, Sexuality, Religion, Asians, Arab-Muslims, Presidents, etc.
     
    According to its privacy policy “[d]ata exchanged with this site are protected by SSL encryption, and no personally identifying information is collected. IP addresses are routinely recorded, but are completely confidential.” (https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html) Given this stipulation, the assumption should also be that the information provided by each student becomes part of a larger data pool — “a ‘virtual laboratory’ for collecting data on the Internet.” (http://www.projectimplicit.net/about.html) As with the Strengths/Weaknesses Surveys, the information a Westminster student receives back from these tests is for his or her personal use only.
     
    Please review the information below:
     
    Speech Writing and Public Speaking
    Speech Writing and Public Speaking represents the second half of the Fourth Form electives that begin with Civic Engagement and Civil Discourse in the fall. During both the winter and (at least part of) the spring trimester, Westminster’s Fourth Formers study both the compositional elements of speech writing and the rhetorical devices that make for effective delivery. The curriculum culminates in the Westminster Fourth Form Public Speaking Contest. Based on speeches students give in their individual sections, roughly ten finalists will be selected. In the spring, these finalists will compete in front of the entire Fourth Form and assorted other members of the Westminster community for the Westminster Fourth Form Speaking Prize.
  • Tutoring

    Westminster in Hartford sends students, faculty, parents, and staff to various schools in Hartford — elementary, middle, and secondary — for the purposes of tutoring and providing other sorts of assistance (e.g., painting, cleaning, moving, etc.). The prime, but by no means exclusive, historical focus of Westminster in Hartford has been Hartford Public High School (HPHS). Hartford Public is an inner-city high school plagued by all the problems and challenges normally associated with urban education — poverty, low graduation rates, hunger, violence, drugs, teenage pregnancy, etc. Thus, student volunteers, parents, and guardians must be aware of the risks associated with service in the urban setting. Nevertheless, all volunteers are expected to consider that, when visiting a school and when working with students from a different community, they must enter as guests who are sensitive to the hidden rules of culture.
  • Loaves and Fishes Ministries

    Another Westminster in Hartford initiative involves working in the soup kitchen of the Loaves and Fishes Ministries (http://loavesfishesministries.org/). On the second Thursday of each month and at other select times during the year, this Westminster in Hartford outreach effort draws on several constituents from the Westminster community — faculty, staff, parents, and students — and sends a contingent to help serve lunch. Loaves and Fishes assists the very neediest people of Hartford. In other words, the individuals that the Westminster volunteers will attend are people who face the problems and challenges often associated with poverty — hunger, homelessness, mental illness, drug addiction, etc. In addition to the risks of working with this population, students, parents, and guardians must consider that Loaves and Fishes operates out of an old church basement, with all the potential problems/hazards associated with such environments.
  • Spring Break in Hartford

    During a week in the month of March, Westminster in Hartford’s Spring Break in Hartford program seeks to extend its outreach further by lending a hand to various service organizations (like Loaves and Fishes) and schools.
  • Bridge to Hartford

    Over the years, Westminster in Hartford (in its previous iterations) has worked to help place students from Hartford-area public schools into independent schools, mostly, but not exclusively, for postgraduate years.
     
    On the Hartford side, the Bridge to Hartford initiative has worked with students from Hartford Public High School, Weaver High School, Bulkeley High School, Windsor High School, and New Britain High School. It  has also worked with a number of students from outside the Hartford area.
     
    On the independent school side, Bridge to Hartford initiative has helped place students at Cheshire Academy; Hyde School, Bath, Maine; Hyde School, Woodstock, Connecticut; Kent School; The Gunnery, Loomis Chaffee School; Salisbury School; Suffield Academy; Westminster School; and Wilbraham & Monson Academy.
  • The Summer Academy at Westminster School (SAWS)

    During the summer of 2015 Westminster School opened its campus, primarily Armour Academic Center, to Covenant Preparatory School (CPS) — an all-boys, tuition-free, private middle school (grades 5 through 8) in Hartford created to make available opportunities “for young men from families with limited resources.” Westminster supports and supplements CPS’s required summer educational program with members of the Westminster community in the form of teachers and student volunteers. SAWS completed its fourth summer this past July 2018!

Generous Support

Horizons at Westminster and Westminster in Hartford are made possible through the generous support of numerous Westminster alumni and parents, other individuals, foundations, and institutions. Their generosity enables these programs to open new doors of opportunity for many young people in Hartford.


For more information
To learn more about Horizons at Westminster and Westminster in Hartford or to support this important partnership work, please contact Kathleen Devaney.

List of 3 members.

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